How to teach a cat to clean itself? 4 tips to better groom your cat


Cats love grooming and cleaning themselves. It is instinctive to them and almost second nature. Cats clean themselves after eating or after they have pooped. Sometimes your cat may stop grooming itself and you may be wondering how to teach a cat to clean itself?

How to teach a cat to clean itself?

If you want to teach a cat to clean itself, start by gently brushing your cat’s fur. This can be relaxing and soothing to your cat and will also help eliminate matting. Keep doing this regularly and your cat may start grooming again on its own.

Why is grooming important for cats?

Most cats do a decent job at maintaining cleanliness and keeping themselves well-groomed. Cats with long hair need extra care to avoid matted fur. Therefore, cats with long or medium hair need regular grooming for your cat’s health and appearance.

If you neglect to groom your cat’s coat, it can become matted, knotted, long, flea-infested, and ultimately uncomfortable for your cat. Regular grooming and brushing ensure that extra shed hair and dead skin are removed and at the same time, natural oils from the skin are spread on the fur.

Regular brushing of the cat’s fur promotes a healthy coat, eliminates odor and matted fur, and reduces hairballs. It also gives you an opportunity to check for fleas and ticks which can severely affect your cat’s health.

Can a Cat’s Broken Toe Affect Its Ability to Clean Itself?

A cat’s broken toe healing process plays a crucial role in its ability to perform daily grooming rituals. Discomfort from the injury may limit the cat’s mobility, making it difficult to reach certain parts of its body. Seeking prompt veterinary care and necessary intervention can enhance healing and restore the cat’s self-grooming capabilities.

Why does my cat not clean himself?

There could be several reasons why your cat may have stopped grooming itself. Some of the most common reasons are,

Pain or an illness

Most cats are very particular and will frequently groom themselves. But if your cat that use to actively groom itself stops suddenly doing so, it may be suffering from some ailment or pain. When a cat has rashes or excessively damaged skin, it may stop scratching or cleaning itself to prevent further discomfort.

A cat that may not be eating much or less than usual may be suffering from a mouth problem like diseased gums, a toothache, or worse still a mouth tumor. This makes grooming really uncomfortable and your cat may be avoiding it altogether.

Change in places, eating schedule, or introduction of new members or pets to the household can stress your cat and make it uncomfortable. As such, its regular habits may change.

Watch out for these changes and try to address your cat’s underlying problem. Take him to a veterinarian if you observe any underlying medical issues.

An obese or overweight cat may have a hard time reaching areas it wants to clean. This can frustrate your cat endlessly and it may stop grooming altogether. Help your cat by reducing its weight, changing its diet to a more protein-rich variety, and giving it regular exercise.

Age-related factors

Aging cats may be suffering from Arthritis, making it extremely painful for them to move or bend their bodies for regular grooming. Old cats may also feel tired by regular attempts to clean themselves and may stop grooming.

Matted fur or knotted hairs

If your cat is a long-haired breed like a Persian cat or a Balinese cat, it may have matted fur or hairs that are in knots. Any attempt at grooming by your cat can be painful and thus traumatize your cat. In such situations, if you can remove the matted fur yourself, do it or else take professional help.

In any case, as a caring pet parent to your cat, you should ensure that you help them by addressing the actual root cause that may be leading them to avoid grooming and help them get back to their regular lifestyle.

How to help your cat with grooming?

If your cat has stopped grooming due to any of the reasons stated above, here are 4 ways you can help them with their grooming.

1. Regular brushing of your cat’s coat

If your cat is not grooming itself as well as it once did, the best thing to do to help is to regularly brush it. Ease your cat’s stress by starting to brush its coat regularly. All cats shed and daily brushing routine will remove these dead hair and make his coat fresh and clean.

Always brush your cat only when it relaxed. Do not try to groom him when he is agitated or running around. Keep the first few sessions short so that your cat does not lose patience.

If your cat is a long-haired breed, don’t pull harshly on its fur. Long-haired breed cats suffer from matted fur and pulling on it may feel painful to your cat. If the fur is too matted, take the help of a professional cat groomer to remove them.

The frequency of brushing depends entirely on your cat’s breed. Long-haired cats require more frequent brushing while short-haired ones can be brushed less frequently.

Use a soft brush made of rubber or a bristle brush to remove loose or fallen hair.

2. Clean your cat’s face and eyes

Most cats will lick their mouth clean after having their meal. In case your cat is suffering from some ailment of the mouth like damaged gums, painful teeth, or a mouth ulcer, it may avoid cleaning its mouth altogether. Use a moist cloth to gently rub and clean your cat’s face. Remember that your cat’s whiskers are very delicate and sensitive so do not try to rub them vigorously.

If you observe crust in the corner of your cat’s eyes, you will need to clean them gently. Use a moist cotton ball or an ear swab to moisten the crust and gently remove it. If you have a flat-faced cat like a Persian or a Himalayan, the facial folds may have to be cleaned as well as tears can collect between them and build up. Use a wet cloth to gently wipe between the skin folds.

Gently pat dry the skin after you have cleaned it.

Examine your cat’s ear t see any mark difference in color, odor, or any buildup. Health cat ears are light pink in color. If you see any wax buildup or debris, gently remove what you can reach easily. Don’t try to use an ear swab as this may push debris further down.

If you are not sure, consult your veterinarian and ask him to suggest a liquid ear cleaner. Use it as directed on the pack or ask your veterinarian for usage advice.

3. Cleaning your cat’s behind

Clean any fecal matter that you may observe on your cat’s fur as soon as possible. If it has dried up, don’t try to pull it off or you may cause pain to your cat. If possible, moisten the matter with water and try to press and remove the clump. If your cat is a long-haired breed, cut off excess hair around the behind of your cat.

4. Trim your cat’s claw

Cats in the wild tend to keep their claws clean and groomed by scratching. Domesticated cats tend to ignore grooming their claws and this can sometimes cause them undue pain.

Inspect your cat’s claws and trim them if they have grown too much. Overgrown claws can grow into your cat’s feet and cause excessive pain. Cut only the white portion of the claw by gently pressing on the paw and extending the nail out.

Invest in a good scratching post for your cat for them to regularly groom their claws and also keep your furniture safe.

Hopefully, by following these tips, you will be helping your cat as a responsible pet parent and teach it how to start cleaning itself again.

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